Michael Young is available. Should the Cubs offer Soriano and cash?

Those who know are saying the Texas Rangers' Michael Young wants out. With Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and newly-signed free agent Adrian Beltre on the roster, Young would be forced to DH next year if he remains with the team, and apparently that's not something he wants to do.

So Young is asking for a trade. Early reports say the Rockies and Angels are the favorites to land him, but Young's contract is a bit of a sticking point: he's owed $48 over the next three years. 
So the Rangers have an overpaid infielder, and they want him to DH. Sort of like how the Cubs have an overpaid DH, and the team is asking him to play in the outfield.
You knew where I was going with this as soon as you read the title: is there a deal to be made between the Rangers and Cubs involving a Young-for-Soriano swap? Almost definitely not, and for a number of reasons. But follow me, if you will, into fantasy land for just one second.

Young is owed $16 million a year for the next three years. Suppose Alfonso Soriano's deal expired after 2013 as well. And suppose the Cubs agreed to send Soriano, plus $2 million a year for the next three years, to Texas. 
Neither team's financials would be impacted; the owners would be writing checks that paid out the exact same salaries. But then Soriano wouldn't have to play defense, while Young would have an open path to a starting spot in the infield. And while Young has played third base most recently, he has played 2B before as well. 
But Young probably doesn't want to play second; he probably wants to stick at third. And Soriano's deal doesn't expire after 2013; he's owed another $18 million in 2014 after that. So this sort of swap probably doesn't make much sense.
But it's also not absolutely crazy, right?


Leave a comment
  • It's a creative idea. I'm not even certain it'd improve the 2011 Cubs. Soriano was worth 2.9 WAR last year, while Young was worth 2.7. Young was also a below average 3B last year according to UZR, and you can bet he'd look even worse at 2B. I give Soriano a slight edge as a player today, without examining their contracts. Do the additional AB's for Fukudome/Colvin minus the at bats that will otherwise go to Baker and DeWitt make this proposed deal a net positive for the Cubs? Maybe by a fraction of 1 win?

  • In general, I agree with what you're saying here. But here's a few random responses:

    1) You cite Soriano's 2010 WAR; don't forget, in 2009 he was straight up average, with a 0.0 WAR. Also, he's 35. I agree with you that, salary aside, Soriano might probably be better than Colvin in left field. But I'm not sure it's by much.

    2) I think second base is typically regarded as an easier position to play than third, since a) you're further away from the batters' box (more time to react to a ball in play) and b) the throw to first is much, much shorter. Also, Young has played 2B in the past. Having said that, Young is almost definitely a much better hitter than DeWitt or Baker.

    So could the deal improve the team? Maybe not. But I think there's a pretty decent chance the upgrade from DeWitt/Baker at 2B to Young would outweigh the downgrade from Soriano to Colvin/Fukudome.

    (Why does a $120 million team have two platoons, one of which is composed of two left-handers... Gahhh....)

  • In reply to ajwalsh08:

    My rebuttals:

    1) If Soriano isn't healthy or regresses from last year, the Cubs are doomed. The Cubs had a garbage offense last year even with a reasonably good season from Sori. 3ish WAR is nothing to spit at, contract aside. Basically, I don't trust Tyler to be better than last year, when he struck out nearly 5 times for every walk.

    2) 2B grades as more difficult because there is so much more ground to cover than at 3B. You noted some mitigating circumstances, which UZR takes into account. I doubt that he could play the position competently, as he's 34 and doesn't move all that well. He should probably be a corner OF at this point in his career, but we sure don't need one of those.

    3) This isn't a rebuttal, but I wanted to answer your rhetorical question as to why the Cubs feature a lefty/lefty platoon: Jim Fucking Hendry.

  • In reply to sep484:

    Google says 2B and 3B are about the same: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/complete_war_2008/

  • In reply to ajwalsh08:

    You win this round, Walsh! ::Drops to knees, shakes fist at sky::

    /Is that Topher Grace?

  • In reply to sep484:

    LLOL (that is, a "L"iteral lol). Also, yes, I am Topher Grace.

  • I like the idea, though I don't expect to see it happen. I think Young could bring some veteran intangibles to the clubhouse as well as be an offensive improvement over Soriano or DeWitt/Baker.

  • In reply to bmmurphy:

    Agreed: this deal basically won't happen. But it's fun to consider.

  • In reply to bmmurphy:

    Fangraphs has Young's value last year at $10.8, while he is projected at $9.8 this year. On the flipside, Soriano produced at a $11.7, with a $7.3 value this year. So, in short, Fan Graphs suspects a big drop off this year in Soriano, which might be crushing to the Cubs.

  • In reply to bmmurphy:

    Two points to consider in this absurd hypothetical:

    1. You can't compare Soriano and Young directly to determine if this trade is a good match. Instead, compare Young to the arsenal of crapbags the Cubs are currently considering at second base. How much better is he?

    Then, compare Soriano to the jabrones who'd be replacing him in the outfield. How much better is he?

    While there are an assortment of factors to look at, Sori's defensive ineptitude cannot be ignored. I'd argue it's possible for the Cubs to come out winners in this theoretical, never-gonna-happen trade, even if Soriano outperforms Young in 2011.

  • In reply to bmmurphy:

    What's the deal with community posting, guys? How do we post our own articles?

  • In reply to sep484:

    Thanks for the reminder - I meant to post directions on that today. Check back on the blog tomorrow morning, I'll have a How To up and running.

  • In reply to sep484:

    How long will Sori be in the line up before he injures himself? The big money says late May or early June at the latest. I'm thinking he won't be available for Opening Day and no one in the know expects him to play 100 games. So, how valuable is he?

  • Part of the decision would be based on who you would rather have one year form now ... two years from now ... three years from now ...

    My gut tells me Soriano may be poised for a steep decline. He's (at least) a year older than Davis, and I suspect that Soriano's remaining years three and four are going to be BRUTAL.

    Davis' stats say he's below average defensively at 3B, maybe average at SS, and a tad above average at 2B. Nothing special here on the defensive side. But he probably would be one of the more productive 2Bs on the offensive side. Either way, I would rather see Ian Kinsler at Wrigley Field ...

    BUT ... the possibility of unloading Soriano's contract is irresistable ... so I say: Git 'er done!

Leave a comment